Ayo Ayodele ‘03 BSBA (Finance and Entrepreneurship) ‘04 MSF
Born in Nigeria to a family of bankers and accountants, it would seem Ayo Ayodele ‘03 BSBA (Finance and Entrepreneurship) ‘04 MSF has business in his blood.
After high school—where he discovered his passions for economics, mathematics and finance at Ashville College in North Yorkshire, England—he didn’t have to think too hard about where to go to college. He had spent summers visiting family in Arizona so, “going to the University of Arizona was the natural choice for me. It was important for me to be somewhere where I had a family support system during my transition from England to the United States.”
Studying finance as an undergraduate inspired Ayodele to stay on at Eller and join one of the first cohorts of the Master of Finance program.
All along, he kept his activities very much aligned with his career aspirations. He served as treasurer of the multicultural business student association; he was a member of the financial management association and served as a technical advisor to the entrepreneurship program as a graduate student.
“I began working for Afrinvest West Africa, managing relationships with key institutions and other fund managers in Africa, Europe and the Americas,” he says.
Ayodele gained significant finance and leadership experience in both developed and frontier markets and it wasn’t long before his career continued its growth. He was subsequently named as Director with IRM, a diversified Financial Services Company. Ayodele relocated to the United States to set up a branch of the African-focused Company. “Building a business, you face a lot of challenges around cash flow, management and finances,” he says. “A lot of those entrepreneurial skills I learned at Eller came into play.”
As if he hadn’t already taken on enough, Ayodele’s relocation to Chicago with IRM allowed him to take public office. “I was very fortunate to work with Jim Lowry, a highly respected Chicagoan and legendary business consultant at the Boston Consulting Group,” he says. “Jim and I hosted the Nigerian Stock Exchange together and Jim recommended me to the treasurer who needed help turning things around in the Treasurer’s Office.”
As the city of Chicago’s Deputy Chief Investment Officer and Assistant City Treasurer, Ayodele managed a $7.2 billion investment portfolio. He also served on the investment committees of four different city of Chicago pension funds. “It was an honor to hold a public office in a major city in a major investment function that really impacted the people in my community,” he says.
“Eller has been very impactful in giving me the foundational skills and tools needed to do all these things. It really made me a well-rounded individual,” he says. “This in addition to my appreciation of the global markets and global exposure position me to be able to achieve my professional objectives.”
Photos by Brian McConkey.